Homeschooling Doesn’t Come With a User’s Manual
On the very first day of my freshman year, I remember pulling down the Religion 9 course from the gigantic looming stack of lesson plan binders. I was nervous, intimidated, and a little overwhelmed. However, as I flipped to the first lesson of Religion, then Grammar, and then English… a sudden wave of relief and excitement washed over me: it was going to be alright.
I could do this kind of work, and it was not over my head. All I needed to do was maintain an “I can” attitude, a good work ethic, and an open mind about learning and being responsible, and I could graduate from Seton Home Study School with a story of success.
Four years later, here I am, writing that story with just as much excitement, joy (and yes relief) as I had hoped those four years ago.
My homeschooling background
My parents had not originally planned to homeschool their children, but God had a different plan, and thankfully they were very open to it. They were introduced to the option of homeschooling and became involved in a group of young families at their local parish who were all interested in this “new and untested idea” of homeschooling.
18 years later, my ever patient and hardworking parents have graduated their eldest daughter (now attending Aquinas College), and now their second daughter—me—is graduating from Seton this coming spring. My siblings and I have been homeschooled all our lives, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
As a homeschooled student, I have experienced the blessing of having time to do my work at the pace which fits me. Some of my fondest memories are of simple things, such as going for a run in the afternoon, cooking dinner with my siblings on Thursday night, or playing a game of “unofficial” baseball in the back yard with my little brother and his buddies. Had I been sent to school, especially as a high schooler, I would not have been able to have experiences and memories which have contributed to who I am as a person today.
The homeschool hardships
Now I am certainly not saying that every day is a play day for homeschoolers. Rather, I believe that having time to live a full life outside of school is one of the greatest benefits to a well-balanced homeschooling schedule.
I am the type of person who wishes my motto could be “work at my own pace, or don’t work at all.” Of course, I can’t always get my way, and I have had to learn to surrender and adapt to other work ethics and time limits. That being said, Seton provided me with just enough flexibility of schedule and time to work at my own pace, but still required discipline and accountability. I motivated myself with the knowledge that slacking in my work did not mean getting out of it, but instead meant plenty of tears and the same amount of work with more pressure and a higher price to pay for it.
It has helped me immensely to learn what works best for me to complete my work on time and pace myself along the way. I know that when I am very busy I tend not to get as much done, so I plan my school schedule accordingly. I tend to become overwhelmed when my plate is overloaded, so I try to start working on the end of quarter tests well before it is exam week.
That way, once exam week does arrive, I am working on editing my papers and sending them in, which keeps me ahead of the game, on top of my work, and overall more relaxed. People have different work styles, but I think that getting work done early, when pressure is low, is a good idea for almost everyone.
I have found that I am a visual learner. This can work against me since I have no teacher at a tangible blackboard in front of me. Sometimes, when I try to understand a concept which is described only on paper, I lose focus and find more interest in the spider slowly crawling across the ceiling, or the new freckle on my arm.
This struggle to keep myself focused on what I need to get done is one of the greatest struggles I have experienced throughout my homeschooling education. But, this too is conquerable. I’ve found that if I motivate myself with promises of a snack after finishing a significant part of a test, or some other motivational goal, it is a lot easier for me to focus.
My homeschool recommendation
Would I recommend homeschooling to everyone? If everyone could have a homeschooling experience as good as or better than mine, then yes, absolutely.
For families who are looking for a flexible school schedule that can work around family-oriented time, extra curricular activities outside of school and a more monitored religious environment, I believe that homeschooling would be a very good option for them. As long as there is an equal balance of discipline and motivation, a home school education can be a successful one.
Throughout my experience with Seton, I have learned that doing a good job in school not only means happy parents, but also means I can learn and grow in many ways. Since no one else can do it for me, I might as well do the very best job I possibly can.
My homeschool education has been a wonderful gift to me, and I hope to show my gratefulness to my parents, to Seton, and to God by working hard, being responsible and trustworthy, and taking away from my education all the knowledge I can possibly retain.
It has been a joy to share my testimony, why I have loved being homeschooled through the good and hard times, and why I would recommend homeschooling to anyone looking for a beneficial and successful education experience.
God bless you.
About Catherine Shaw
Catherine Shaw will graduate in the Seton class of 2015 and will attend Aquinas College in the Fall. She enjoys music, art, martial arts, baking, exercising and praying, and is the second oldest of six children. She credits every good grade she received during high school to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. See more by Catherine
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